Monday, September 28, 2009

My Quilting Arts Workshop DVD

My Quilting Arts Workshop DVD is now available for pre-order through Quilting Arts/Interweave. It is called “Master Machine Quilting: Free-Motion Stitching and Thread Sketching with Susan Brubaker Knapp.” The price is $19.95.

Here’s the blurb on the back:
“Susan teaches you the basics of free-motion machine stitching, including thread work to enhance the surface and quilting to hold the layers together beautifully. Find out what materials you’ll need and how to get started. Beginners and intermediates – and those who have been too terrified to try until now – will find inspiration and answers, as well as lots of tips, techniques and practical information to improve their machine stitching. Stitchers of all levels will benefit from Susan’s thorough approach – from her careful consideration of materials and preparation (including advice on how to chill out), to the differentiation between thread sketching and machine quilting. Learn the benefits and purpose for each of these methods, and find plenty of inspiration through Susan’s artful examples.”

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hosta, and the SAQA Visioning Project

Hosta (2009) 7-1/4" x 9-3/4"
Cotton fabric, acrylic paint, cotton and rayon thread, cotton batting.

A few weeks ago, I made the decision to join Studio Art Quilt Associates’ “Visioning Project.” The idea behind the project, led by SAQA president Lisa Chipetine, is that you can reach your goal if you envision it, plan it and execute it step by step, with the help of other supportive artists in the group. Each participants’ first step is to refine a clearly stated goal to be achieved in 12 months.

After much thought, I settled on this goal: To work in a series and produce at least eight pieces in a unified body of work for a solo show.

With everything else I have going on in my life, this is an ambitious goal for me. But it is an important one. For several years, I’ve wanted to work in a series, to find my “distinctive voice” and to pump up my production and my commitment to my art. I think the Visioning Project will help me do that.

One of the first things I have to do was to decide on the subject matter and a technique I want to use for the entire series. Toward that aim, I made the small piece above (“Hosta”) yesterday. It is just a study, but it helps me resolve some of the issues in my head that I need to move forward on the series.

Here is the photo on which the piece is based:

It is of close-up shot of a hosta I keep in a pot on my back steps. The leaves are starting to show signs of disease and decay, and the normal decline brought on by fall. I thought the pattern created, combined with the lines of the veins of the leaf, was really beautiful.

I started with white Pimatex cotton fabric, a combed cotton poplin fabric by Robert Kaufman. I had used Robert Kaufman’s Kona Cotton before, but I discovered that I like the Pimatex better for this kind of work. It is very fine and smooth, and much easier to draw on with a pencil.

After sketching the lines on the fabric, I painted using Liquitex Soft Body Artist Color mixed with Liquitex Fabric Medium. Then I did thread work on the surface before quilting it. Here is a detail shot:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A new pattern: The Piñata Purse

Here it is, my latest pattern: Piñata Purse! It is $10 and is available on my website. Quiltshops can purchase it wholesale through Moda (soon)!

This flirty purse covered in raw-edge batik fringe is fully lined and has a large pocket on the back, as well as inner pockets you can customize to fit the things you carry in your purse. It measures 13" x 10" x 3".

Here’s a shot of the back:

Want to win a copy? Leave me a comment on this post telling me what you think about the Piñata Purse, or your favorite piñata story (get hit in the head? have a party piñata that refused to crack open?), and I’ll draw one name at random on Oct. 1, and announce the winner here.
(NOTE: I drew a number, and Rosalie W. is the winner!)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Indian Corn

Indian Corn Imprint (2009) 14 x 11.5"

This is a small piece I just completed this weekend. At Monday’s Pandoras meeting, I created a stamp of the corn pattern using Fun Foam mounted on a cylinder (see previous entry for explanation of this process). I created stamps using both the positive parts (kernels) and negative parts (spaces between the kernels) of the design.

I stamped on muslin, using Liquitex Soft Body Artist Color and Liquitex Professional Acrylic Ink, mixed with Liquitex Fabric Medium. I cut some of the stamped muslin apart and stitched it back together. You can see this in the upper left section of the photo above, and in the detail shots below.

On some of the images using the stamp with the kernels, I drew around the kernels with a purple Derwent Inktense Pencil and then used a wet paintbrush to soften the pencil lines.

When I quilted it, I stitched in some kernels along the edges that weren’t there originally, and filled them in with the Inktense pencils. My intent was not to make them look exactly the same, but to draw attention to the stitched line and the transition between the two pieces (which you can see in the photo below, almost right down the middle):

and in this shot, horizontally near the top:

On the stamped images using the stamp with the space between the kernels, I used the Inktense pencils to color in (using cross hatching) the kernels. Or I simply did the cross hatching with thread. You can see this in the photo below, on the left side:

I quilted in lines suggestive of dried corn husks around the corn, using a variated green/tan/brown thread.

I had fun with this piece, and learned how to use some new materials I had not tried before. I really liked the Liquitex materials, especially how the inks and paints worked with the Fabric Medium. Liquitex makes some metallic colors, too, which I have not tried yet, but will in the future. The Inktense pencils would be nice for a soft watercolor effect, or a subtle wash of color.

I like trying out new techniques and materials, because I find that it forces me a bit out of my comfort zone, and makes me more creative. It also adds skills and materials to my arsenal, so that when I get a great idea, I can choose those best suited to the subject matter.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Stamps from Fun Foam

My local art quilt group, the Pandoras, met today at my house to create rolling stamps. We followed directions in the current issue (September/October 2009) of Cloth Paper Scissors in an article by Linda Calverley. The idea is to make stamps on cylindrical objects so you can roll your design on, rather than stamping straight down.

We started by collecting cylinders, such as pieces of PVC piping, salt containers, cardboard tubes, tennis ball tubes and baby wipe containers. The author suggests using Fun Foam, which is a lightweight foam plastic material that comes in sheets of varying thicknesses, and is often pre-cut into cute shapes for kids’ crafts. She uses a very strong adhesive (such as UHU glue) to stick the foam onto the cylinders, but I found it at my local craft store with an adhesive backing paper already attached. All we had to do was to cut our designs, peel off the paper backing, stick them to the cylinders, then dab on the paint and let ’er roll!

Here’s a closeup of my corn design shown above with the stamp:

Instead of using fabric paints, I used a mixture of Liquitex Fabric Medium and Liquitex Professional Acrylic Inks. Although the inks are very thin, they have very strong color, making them ideal for stamping. I mixed just a few drops of the ink with the Fabric Medium so that it would not bleed or dry out as quickly, and to create more volume. The Fabric Medium also helps give the stamped area a softer “hand” (this term means softness and flexibility of the fabric) when it dries. This created the perfect consistency for dabbing on to the stamps with a foam brush.

I also used the stamp with metallic paints, Lumiere by Jacquard:

Here is the other half of the corn design, rolled around a recycled cardboard salt container:

I think this one (created by stamping several times) resembles a net, or some sort of cellular structure:

I have some projects in mind for these fabrics. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Appliqué Petal Party is here!

It’s here! I just got my advance copy of Appliqué Petal Party! My editors, photographers and graphic designers at C&T Publishing did a fabulous job; they were a pleasure to work with. Several of my friends did blocks in different color schemes that are featured on the exterior covers and in the booklet. (You guys are the greatest!) I’m so pleased with how it turned out.

It will be available in October from C&T, and I’m be taking pre-orders for autographed copies on my website right now. If you are coming to Fall Quilt Market in Houston, I’ll also be autographing copies in C&T’s booth on Sunday, Oct. 11 from 3 to 3:30 p.m.


Appliqué Petal Party by Susan Brubaker Knapp
Published by C&T Publishing

16 floral bouquet blocks (12-1/2" square) and a floral border make a 73" x 73" finished quilt

8-page color booklet with step-by-step instructions
9 double-sided pattern sheets with full-size appliqué patterns

Monday, September 7, 2009

Three new pieces

Here are three new pieces I’ve completed in the past six weeks. All are little (smaller than one foot square), because I had to create them as projects for the two Quilting Arts TV segments and the Workshop DVD I filmed last week. That meant that I had to do each one partially several times, to create the “step-outs” to demonstrate how I worked.

Here’s the first, “Sunflower,” which is based on a photo I took in my mom’s garden. This sample is for my Quilting Arts Workshop DVD on free-motion machine quilting and thread-sketching. This piece has fused pieces that are thread-sketched; there is nothing but thread and fabric here. No paint! The Workshop DVD should be available this fall through Quilting Arts/Interweave.

This is “Bodie Island Lighthouse.” It is based on a photo I took during my daughter’s field trip to North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The pieces are fused to the background and then thread-sketched before the piece is quilted. That’s Angelina for the clouds. I think this project will be on the first episode, 501.

This is “Coleus,” a wholecloth painted quilt. It started as a piece of plain white Kona Cotton, and I painted it with Stewart Gill paint, then added some detail with thread, and quilted it. This piece is based on a close-up photo of a coleus leaf I took at the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Asheville. I think this project will air in episode 513:

Quilts featured in Mooresville Artist Guild exhibition

My local quilt guild, Lake Norman Quilters, has work exhibited at the Mooresville Artist Guild this month. Our group started about ten years ago with only 5 members; today we have more than 50 traditional quilters and art quilters. My quilt “Lepidoptera” is part of the exhibit. It is really great to see an artists’ group accepting fiber artists and quilters.

The opening reception will be held Sept. 11 from 6-8 p.m. during the Mooresville Art Walk. The guild building is the Southern Railway Depot at the intersection of Main and Center in historic downtown Mooresville.

Mooresville Artists Guild
103 W. Center Avenue
Mooresville NC 28115
Open Tuesday – Saturday 10 to 4 and Sunday 1-4

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Halloween preview

There’s a touch of coolness in the air, and the calendar says September... less than two months until my favorite day of the year, Halloween! It’s time to get out my decorations! I just finished this punchneedle embroidery piece called “Prize Pumpkin” by Shawn Williams of Threads that Bind. Isn’t he a cutie?

You can see more of Shawn’s great punchneedle designs here.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Artists’ Forum at the Mint Museum

On December 1, Janet A. Lasher and I will be guest speakers at The Mint Museum’s Artists’ Forum. These events are designed to give area artists a platform to discuss their work as well as current issues and activities in their artistic fields.

The forum is being held in conjunction with American Quilt Classics, 1800-1980: The Bresler Collection, showing at the Mint Museum of Craft + Design now through February 6, 2010. The collection includes spectacular examples of Baltimore Album quilts, crazy quilts, Chintz pictorial quilts, Amish quilts and log cabin quilts.


Tuesday, Dec. 1

7 to 8:30 p.m.

Mint Museum of Art

2730 Randolph Road, Charlotte NC

Cost: free

(You can click on the image above to see an enlargement of the flyer.)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

On the set at Quilting Arts TV

Pokey Bolton, editor of Quilting Arts magazine, and me, getting ready to shoot my first segment.

I just returned from Cleveland, where I was shooting two segments for Quilting Arts TV, and a Quilting Arts Workshop DVD. What a wonderful, nerve-wracking, exhilarating couple of days! Let me show you some of the people I met, and what I did.

It was a journey without auspicious beginnings. As my husband was checking me in for my rental car, he discovered that my driver’s license was expired. For almost a year. Not only could I not get a rental car, we were not even sure I’d be able to get on the plane, since you use your license as a photo ID. I had a passport, but wasn’t it in the safe deposit box at the bank? The bank that would not open in time for me to retrieve the passport and get to my plane on time? Luckily, no. My passport was here, in the house. Whew! I’d have to take a taxi to the studio and the hotel, but that was small potatoes.

By early afternoon, I had arrived at the taping studio in the outskirts of Cleveland with my humongous suitcase packed with all my “step-outs” (samples showing each step of the process I was demonstrating), light board, paints, paintbrushes, fabric, batting, threads, and several changes of clothing for the shoots. Here’s how the set looks from the doorway:

In the green room (where people wait to go on the set), the amazingly sweet, patient, and ever-smiling Jeanne Cook Delpit, director of national events for Bernina of America, was helping everyone get ready to stitch on the great Bernina machines they use on the set:

A few people who had either finished their segments, or who were setting up for the next day were there:

Sarah Vedeler, me, Jeanne Cook Delpit, Dianne Giancola, and Natalya Aikens

Sarah Vedeler was showing off her incredible digitized designs on silk. She had finished her segment already and was in the calm-and-collected zone, popping off photos and posts to Facebook.

Dianne Giancola from Rit Dye was setting up some samples of amazing shibori dyeing done with Rit dyes:

Natalya Aikens had filmed her TV segments and was getting ready to work on her Workshop DVD. Natalya grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Russian fairytales feature prominently in her exquisite highly embellished and layered work.

Somehow I missed taking a photo of Teri Harris Lucas, machine quilter extraordinairre! How did that happen? I think it was because she was taping when I had my camera out. Teri was giving tips for free-motion quilting, and had her gorgeous quilt Twilight in the Bronx on the set. I’m stealing her photo to show you:

On the day of my taping (Wednesday), I hitched a ride in to the studio with Jeanne and started getting all my materials organized. Jeanne helped me set up the Aurora 440 and adjust my tension settings for both free-motion machine quilting and thread sketching segments in my Workshop DVD.

One by one, people were called in to makeup, and then to shoot their segments on the set. The makeup artist told me I was very fair skinned and should be using SPF 70 all the time, and showed me how to tweeze my eyebrows correctly. Pokey darted in and out, changing outfits for each segment, and working on her laptop in between. When a segment was being taped, we watched it on a big screen in the green room.

Laura Gunn (below) was showing off her line of fabrics for Michael Miller called “Lantern Bloom.” Lots of gorgeous bittersweet orange and turquoise and green, and some darling garments made from them.

Mary Hettmansperger (below) makes exquisite arts quilts embellished with innovative metal embellishments. I didn’t realize until I got home and looked at her website that she also makes lovely baskets and jewelry to die for. She is the author of Wrap, Stitch, Fold & Rivet: Making Designer Metal Jewelry, and Fabulous Woven Jewelry: Plaiting, Coiling, Knotting, Looping & Twining with Fiber and Metal.

Sue Cavanaugh does incredible stitch-resist shibori. I was practically drooling over her work, which is intensely stitched with heavy cord designed for beading, pulled tight and knotted, dyed several times, then hand stitched. Sue had a piece in Quilt National 2009! Here she is (on the left) explaining her stitching technique to Dianne:

Later in the afternoon, I met Carol Taylor, who also had a piece (“Abundance”) in Quilt National 2009! I had seen Carol’s work in several quilt shows and really admired it. She was there to shoot Quilting Arts TV segments and a workshop DVD. I had dinner with Carol and really enjoyed getting to know her. Some of her recent work has yarns and other fibers couched on top in circles:

Pretty soon, the list posted on the green room door looked like this, with only one guest before me:


First I did my two Quilting Arts TV segments with Pokey. I carried my tray of materials onto the set and got ready:

I put all the samples out on the table and then Pokey and the production staff ran through the order of everything, suggested adjustments and gave me good tips:

Here’s how it looks from the other side of the table. Dark in the back, big and cavernous, with only the three camera-men and big, bright lights shining in your face:

Looking up is almost as intimidating, with giant lights and wiring high overhead:

I had to retape the first chunk of the Workshop, and a tiny bit of the last chunk, but they told me I had done a passable job and that I seemed confident, so I guess I faked it fairly well! ;-)

The TV segments were very easy, with Pokey by my side asking great questions and guiding me along. The Workshop shoot was more intimidating, since I had to be up there for 60-75 minutes, talking and teaching completely by myself, with three cameras on me (one straight on, to look into; one for the overhead shots of my work and samples; and one shooting the machine work).

I’m happy to say that I made it to the end of the day without 1) vomiting on Pokey, 2)passing out, or 3) bursting into tears. By about 5:30 p.m., both of the TV segments and the Workshop DVD were “in the can.” Gee, I’m glad I took that high school acting class, and participated in a few high school musicals. I just put on my stage persona, took a deep breath, and started rolling.

Stress? Yes. But it was also tons of fun. I met some amazing artists and got to talk to them about their work, and had wonderfully helpful, kind people helping me every step of the way. Here are two of them, Jeanne and Helen Gregory, managing editor for Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors, goofing off in the green room:

Quilting Arts TV airs on public television stations across the country. The 500 series shot this week will air starting in December. I think one of my segments will be on the first episode, 501. The other should be in episode 513. The Workshop DVD should be available this fall.